Views of the IT industry from the Eyes of a Systems Engineer:
An ITKAN chat with Brendan Ginty
By Bill O’Connor
ITKAN is feeling good about the past week!
We were recently honored as a 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate as well as having an informative ITKAN monthly presentation by Pat Shanahan, the CEO/Founding Partner of Shanahan Consulting Services, on his training directed at wounded veterans. We’re hoping to take advantage of Pat’s program in the future for our members. Finally, as always, ITKAN members enjoyed the exchange of passionate ideas of professionals and aspiring professionals with disabilities in information technology.
Focusing on IT professionals who support ITKAN, we previously featured Adam Hecktman, Director of the Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago. This week, ITKAN spoke with Brendan Ginty. Brendan is a Pre-Sales Systems Engineer at Sonicwall, where he has been employed for the past eight years. Previous to his career experience with Sonicwall, Mr. Ginty was a Network Systems Engineer at UUNET (now a division of Verizon Business) for almost five years.
Brendan spoke with the ITKAN team to talk about the Systems Engineer position, his views on the information technology industry and where it is going, and his views of the future of the hiring professionals with disabilities. He is a resident of Chicago.
Hello Brendan, and thanks for your time to speak with us today. Can you tell us a little more about Sonicwall and your position there?
Sonicwall is a network security company. Most people are familiar with our firewalls, but we extend our network security reach into other areas including secure remote access, content control, wireless and even data backup and recovery. I’m a systems engineer and have the responsibility to educate and train our channel partners on these different solutions.
As there are so many different ways to breach networking systems through different types of attacks, I would imagine that a systems engineer has to be a “good” guy and “bad” guy at the same time. Would that make sense?
To a degree yes. There are white hat hackers or ethical hackers who look at network vulnerabilities and attempt to patch those holes. There are also black hat hackers who look for vulnerabilities with malicious intent in mind. Both approaches are designed to find flaws within a network. It’s my job to give our customers the tools they need to protect their business from these flaws and enable them to continue doing their job without having to sacrifice productivity.
How did your career path lead you to becoming a systems engineer as well as to IT itself?
Computers were always a hobby of mine going back to the days when I had a Commodore 64 as a kid.
I never really saw computers or networking as a profession, until a friend of mine made a career change into the industry. I ended up taking some courses at a local college, got some certifications and then worked a few types of entry level IT jobs which helped me gain experience. From there I had gotten to know people in the industry and the “human” networking piece was essential.
From your point of view, how do you feel about the security industry in IT as a whole? Where can someone start on the path towards this specific occupation?
The security IT industry is a great place to be, because it’s constantly evolving and you’re always seeing and learning new things. As long as human beings are writing code, they are going to make errors (bugs) within that code, and there is always going to be someone out there looking to exploit that error. As far as a path, I would take some classes to get a solid foundation in whatever area interests you.
There are a lot of different directions you can go within the IT world, so narrowing down the field will make things easier. There are also a ton of organizations that are available like ISC2 for security professionals, that hold seminars, trainings and other helpful things to promote your continuing education.
So after work, is the tech world put away until work rolls around again, or does technology bleed into your leisure time?
I don’t think I ever put it away. Especially with smart devices like the iPhone and iPad, I feel like I’m wired in most of the time.
Before I asked you to visit us for a few moments, you mentioned your interest in ITKAN. As you know ITKAN’s mission is to support the development of passionate professionals with disabilities in technology. I’d like to know your thoughts to wrap things up.
I think ITKAN is a great resource. Technology enables people to do things they may not have been able to do otherwise. People with certain disabilities may automatically count out an opportunity, but within the IT world there are so many roads to choose, I think it’s important people understand that.
Thanks Brendan. Your opinion and insight is valuable and appreciated. Any final thoughts?
If you’ve got a passion for something, just stick with it through thick and thin and you’ll eventually get there.